“Enhanced Interrogation” In North Korea

The latest UN Report on the hideous, butchering and torturing machine that is the North Korean regime is a helpful reminder of just which regime in the world is currently the worst. The totalitarianism, the mass starvation, the regional belligerence, the concentration camps … it’s all in the report, preposterously dismissed by China. And we might as well be realistic: the only outside power with the ability to change anything in that haunted wasteland is China. And the regime there is proving its callousness and indifference to basic humanity by continuing to carry water for the Kims and their generations-long mass murder of their subjects.

But it’s also distressing to see that the images of torture in North Korea look painfully familiar. They were drawn by a former inmate in these gulags of terror. Here are “stress positions”:

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Here is the cramming of a prisoner into a tiny box/tunnel so as to reduce him to the level of an animal;

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and here’s “long-time standing”:

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And yes, of course there is waterboarding. Torture regimes rarely leave water out of their methods:

The torture chamber was equipped with a water tank, in which suspects could be immersed until the suspect would fear drowning. The room also had wall shackles that were specially arranged to hang people upside down.

Now look: in no way on earth am I equating the US’s history of torturing of prisoners in wartime with the uniquely foul, domestic, and widespread torture conducted by the totalitarian monsters in Pyongyang. What I am merely insisting is that what the US did was torture within the widely accepted, internationally and domestically defined use of the term; that our righteous fury at North Korea’s brutality has been compromised by our own complicity in the same torture techniques; and that the US government has never made even the slightest inclination to hold anyone in authority accountable for the war crimes.

I am not anticipating any justice in the near future. Democracies cannot bear very much reality. But can we please dispense with the lie that the Bush administration did not torture terror suspects?

Can we finally consign the term “enhanced interrogation” to the ash-heap of history?